The newest casualty figures from the Department of Defense (it updates the number of killed daily or as needed and generally gives a revised total for wounded in action every Tuesday) shows the number of wounded in battle since we went into Iraq has now surpassed 10,000 (that’s in addition to 1,340 dead, 1.049 of those killed in action as of today).
Of the 10,252 wounded to date, 4,856 were “WIA RTD” — wounded in action and returned to duty within 72 hours. The report that said 5,396 of the wounded did not return to duty within 72 hours. The Pentagon’s stats also show that about 95 percent of the wounded have been injured since Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” event on May 1, 2003. The Defense Department describes action in the period from that date to the present as “post-combat ops.” Doesn’t “post” mean “after”?
All Pentagon and media bashing aside, I’d say that TV and print outlets have done a generally awful job reporting on the wounded. You rarely come across even a simple weekly summary of how many troops have been wounded. And getting into the reality of the kinds of injuries the troops are suffering, what kind of care they’re getting, and how the services treat those who are disabled. It’s part of the real face of the war that most people just don’t get to see (though we do get to see lots of images of happy troops watching sporting events; there was another example last night with troops in Baghdad rooting for Virginia Tech during ABC’s telecast of the Sugar Bowl. I’ll bet anything we get a repeat during the USC-Oklahoma game, complete with rah-rah commentary from the political dimwits in the broadcast booth).
Of course, you can’t talk about our 10,000 wounded without considering the carefully unreported details of Iraqi casualties since the war began. Ideologically driven efforts like Iraq Body Count aside — which at this point appears to attribute all Iraqi deaths, even Iraqi police officers and soldiers killed by insurgents, to the United States — there’s really no authoritative source for these numbers or for details that might show important trends in the actions (for instance, the bloodbath among Iraqis that has unfolded in Mosul over the past couple of months).